Hyperactivity of The Sympatho-Adrenomedullary System Without Any Modification of The Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis Following Food Restriction Among High-Level Weightlifters

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Abstract

We examined the effects of six days of food restriction on salivary α-amylase (sAA), cortisol and dehydroepiandrostenedione (DHEA) awakening responses, psychological parameters and performance among eleven international weightlifters. Assessments were made at baseline (T1) and 6 days after a normal period of training while maintaining body weight (T2). Then, participants were assigned into two groups depending on whether they lost (Diet group) or maintained (Control group) their body weight. Anthropometric, psychological, physical and physiological assessments were also realized 6 days (T3) following the restricted dietary period for the Diet group. Food restriction (T3) induced a significant rise of sAA awakening response (364.6%, p < 0.05), while no significant variations were observed among the HPA axis (cortisol and DHEA). Significant alterations of the general Recovery Score and General stress Score, evaluated through the Recovery-Stress Questionnaire for athletes, were noted following food restriction. Weightlifting performance, evaluated during a simulated weightlifting competition, was maintained after the 6-d food restriction; we even noted an increased weightlifting performance related to body weight (Sinclair coefficient). Our findings support the hypothesis that food restriction induces a challenging situation to the organism, resulting in an asymmetry between the two stress systems activation. These results reinforce the necessity to cautiously plan and monitor the weight regulation process before competition to avoid potential negative outcomes on psychophysiological parameters. In this regard, the psychobiological approach, especially the awakening responses, seems a useful tool.

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